Punjab polls: SAD pits ex-Army chief against Captain Amarinder Singh in Patiala

Singh said his joining SAD was a “conscious decision” after he witnessed the state government’s development work in the form of roads, heritage sites and memorials

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh | Updated: January 8, 2017 5:59:11 am
Punjab elections, Punjab polls, SAD, SAD-Congress, SAD-BJP-punjab elections, Sukhbir Singh Badal, Amarinder Singh, India news, Punjab Congress, Indian Express Sukhbir Singh Badal and J J Singh in Chandigarh on Saturday. (Photo by Kamleshwar Singh)

Former Army chief General J J Singh (retired), who was on Saturday officially named the SAD candidate for Patiala Assembly constituency to take on Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh, also an ex-serviceman, in his family fiefdom, said he would fight the “enemy without pity or remorse” while praising the Modi government over One Rank One Pension (OROP) issue and claiming ex-servicemen are “happy and content”.

Announcing his candidature at a specially convened press conference, SAD president and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal showed him off as the country’s “first Sikh Army chief”.

The former Army chief dismissed Captain Amarinder’s assertion that he would make history by defeating a General. “Time will tell. It will be me, grandson of a sepoy, who will throw out Maharaja from his citadel. Ohdi mitti puleet karunga (I will humiliate him). Let us see whose history is correct and who makes it.”

“In infantry, it is said when we face the enemy, it should be without pity, and without remorse,” he said.

Gen Singh (retired) told The Indian Express his decision to join SAD was a “conscious one” after he witnessed the state government’s development work in the form of roads, heritage sites and memorials. “Your question could be why from pedestal of former Army chief and former Governor, I came down to contest an MLA election. First, I had been doing social work for some time now and to put that into action, I needed political patronage, authority and support. Otherwise, as you know, bureaucracy does not take you seriously. Secondly, if a General should not come down to the level of contesting an MLA election, why should a Maharaja stoop down to the level? He wants power. Now, he faces heat of a General entering the battlefield.”

Singh said Capt had taken Patialvis (residents of Patiala) “for granted” and that he was shocked to learn that he never went to any galli mohalla or koocha to meet people. “Is he a public leader or Raja? I will force him to get out of his fort and go to galli, mohallas and koochas if he wants to seek mandate to become a public leader.”

The General said while Captain Amarinder Singh had 20 to 22 days to campaign as he would put in six hours a day, “I would put in 18 hours a day and that would mean I have 66 days on those standards”. “Capt will work from 12 [noon] to 6 pm and I will work from 6 am to midnight. He cannot match my stamina and strength.”

“Capt says this is his last campaign. He should not waste time and quit now only,” said the former Army chief.

Lauding the Modi government for spending “more than Rs 10,000 crore” for ex-servicemen, Singh said, “All soldiers, my friends and colleagues and juniors have received enough bounty, first from OROP and second from 7th Pay Commission. They are quite happy and content.”

Singh dismissed the ex-servicemen protesting at Jantar Mantar over OROP and other issues as “ a politically oriented group” not representative of all ex-servicemen.

“Do you recall that in 2014, when the Congress government left, they had allocated Rs 500 crore for OROP. It was a joke. Rs 500 crore is not even 1/10th or 1/20th of what was required,” he said.

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